Each year, the Religion Newswriters Association conducts its Top Religion News Stories of the Year poll. This year, over 300 journalists specializing in reporting on religion were polled. Their Top 10 stories were:
1. The proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near the Ground Zero site.
2. The earthquake in Haiti that sparked relief efforts by many faith-based groups.
3. Pope Benedict XVI is accused of delaying church action against pedophile priests in Ireland, Germany and the United States.
4. The rise of the Tea Party movement, which is seen by some as a return to political prominence for the religious right.
5. President Obama signs the health-care reform bill which will impact many faith-based groups. Pro-life organizations are concerned that the legislation will provide funding for abortions.
6. The role of homosexual clergy among mainline congregations continued to be a hot topic in 2010. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA votes for the fourth time to lift the ban on noncelibate gay clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suffers scores of defections after its 2009 vote on the issue. The Episcopal Church is asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to take a lesser role in the Anglican Communion after a lesbian assistant bishop is ordained.
7. The economic slump was an ongoing challenge for churches and ministries. The Crystal Cathedral declares bankruptcy. The Lutheran publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, drops its pension plan. The Seventh-day Adventist publishing arm removes top executives.
8. Bullying draws attention with several suicides attributed to it. Religious groups strongly condemn it, but some see it as having religious roots, especially in regards to homosexuality.
9. The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey released by the Pew Forum offers some surprising findings, including that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons had the highest correct answers to general questions about religion.
10. Convening for the first time ever without a Protestant in its number (six Catholics and three Jews), the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Kansas church that loudly protests at funerals of servicemen. Earlier in the year, the Court allowed a cross to remain at least temporarily on National Park land in the Mojave Desert. For the complete list go to 2010 Religion Stories of the Year.
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)